French in a Flash: Dijon Lentil Salad with Lemon-Roasted Shrimp

RECIPE: Dijon Lentil Salad with Lemon-Roasted Shrimp
Lentil Salad with Shrimp

Lentil Salad with Shrimp

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

The inspiration for this dish came from a very unusual place: the menu on the wall in Meryl Streep’s café in It’s Complicated. I always find myself salivating and longing for long picnics on the Pont des Arts whenever I see a Nancy Meyers movie, and this one full of cloudy chocolate croissant reveries was no exception. So when I saw “lentil and shrimp salad” scrawled out across the screen, I thought, “That would make a good column!”

I don’t know how Meryl Streep makes her lentil and shrimp salad, but I make mine with Puy lentils, Dijon vinaigrette,and jumbo shrimp roasted with lemon zest and olive oil in a Riviera-hot oven, ticker-taped with bits of sweet grape tomato peeking. I love the French use of lentils—filling as mashed potatoes but far more virtuous, and while I did recently hear my favorite celebrity chef insist that you could substitute any lentil for the dainty, green du Puy, I will have to ask you not to. Brown lentils that turn to mush were created for soup, and green lentils that stay pert after a hard boil were made for salads. Puy lentils are more and more readily available, but truly any gourmet or health food store should carry them, and like the road less traveled, they make all the difference.

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Categories: Eat, Fish, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Salad, Series, Soup & Salad
 

The Secret Ingredient (Membrillo) Part III: Membrillo-Roasted Lamb

RECIPE: Membrillo-Roasted Lamb
Membrillo Roasted Lamb

Membrillo Roasted Lamb

Get the whole story from Serious Eats.

With weddings, there must be something blue. And with lamb, there must be something sweet. Whether that something is currant jelly or mint sauce, lamb welcomes a contrasting sweet note.

For this recipe, I pair two traditional lamb partners—rosemary and that extra sweetness—with boneless lamb loin chops. For the sweetness, I use the Spanish quince paste membrillo. This recipe is powerful in its simple execution and strong flavors. It brings out the membrillo’s subtle sweetness, of honey and apricot, so that eaters utter that Secret Ingredient phrase—”What is that?”

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Categories: Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient
 

French in a Flash: Cod en Papillote

RECIPE: Cod en Papillote
Cod en Papillote

Cod en Papillote

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

I was having lunch with an old friend this week who is incredibly successful, and recently engaged. She looked at me over lunch with wide eyes and admitted that she had absolutely no idea how to cook, but wanted to make something for her fiancé maybe once a week that was healthy, light, took very little skill, and could be thrown together in about twenty minutes—something quick that she couldn’t mess up.

Cod en papillote is that recipe. I realize now that I never heard the word “papillote” outside of the culinary term “en papillote,” and when I looked it up, I found that it meant curlpaper—for curling hair. Very quaint. But in culinary terms, it means wrapping and sealing food, using fish or poultry, in parchment and putting it in the oven so it steams in its own juices. Parchment requires fancy folding, so I switched to foil. This recipe is seamless, impossible to get wrong, and requires no clean up.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Fish, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Series
 

Last Supper

Shack

Shack Burger

Maybe this happens to you too. When I leave a place, like home, for instance, I don’t only think about all the people and the places I will miss. I think about the food. I dream about the food. And I obsess about the food. Take it or leave it. That’s me. I start planning a series of “last suppers” a week in advance. There’s nothing I can do to change it. And in my efforts to suck down every last bite of a place, I usually eat way, way too much. Again, everyone has a vice. And I kind of like mine. It’s tasty.

Leaving New York to come back to England inspired a manic incarnation of my need-to-eat syndrome. I went to the Vinegar Factory and had about three raspberry-jam stuffed corn muffins, that crumble and stick to the roof of your mouth in that solid-peanut-butter way that good corn muffins have. I had the black squid rice and shrimp enchiladas at Maz Mezcal–because it’s not that easy, sorry, to find adequate Mexican in the UK, no matter what anybody tells you. (If you know of some, please tell me, because I’m dying for it!) As I shoved spoonfuls of saffron rice studded with oily black ink and squid bodies and olives and roasted pequillos and peas upon forkful of tender wine-soaked shrimps shrouded in corn tortillas and tomatillo sauce into my mouth, and I chased with still more excruciating bites of refried beans and double-salted tortilla chips. Some people gaze across a landscape. Others breath it in. I inhale it–off a plate.

I made other stops for specific things that aren’t part of the UK food culture. Like Yura for a great turkey sandwich–an American staple that hasn’t been imported into England. Piles of king crab dumplings and Kiss of Fire sushi rolls at Haru. I mean, this was all in the space of a few days, and I’m still standing.

But last but not least was my trek over to The Shake Shack. I took my father, who had never been before, and walked across the park to pre-emptively burn some of the all-American calories we were already guilty about consuming. As I stood in line to order my shack burger, fries, seltzer, and vanilla shake, I did stop and smell the fryers a bit. Perhaps I learned to leave New York by eating up the entirety of the Big Apple because the restaurants are the kitchens of New York. In the way a kitchen is the heart of a home, so a restaurant is the heart of the City. Kids were weaving their way through anxious, hungry legs that stamped like a herd’s in line. Couples were discussing the sourcing of the Yukon gold fries, and just why exactly they were less fat than other fries. The sun glinted in from the glass-paned walls, and I squinted out onto Columbus Avenue. I remembered coming to this very spot with my friend Amanda, who used to live a block away, and ordering a salad with blue cheese dressing and a side of fries when it was another restaurant.

It was New York, and I wanted every last drop of it.

And then I sat down at the glorified picnic table with my dad and my burger. That soft, buttery bun. The crumbling beef, the oozing vinegary sauce. The crisp resilience of the crinkle fries that we shared across the table. That sweet, thick, oozing ketchup. And the shake that wouldn’t budge up the straw–so different from the milk-based shakes of the UK. It was all-American, and I ate it all up to the last crumb. The only thing I didn’t take a bite out of that day was American Pie. But that’s on my list for next time.

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Categories: New York, Restaurants, Voyages
 

The Secret Ingredient (Membrillo) Part II: Grilled Cheese with Membrillo and Serrano Ham

RECIPE: Grilled Cheese with Membrillo and Serrano Ham
Grilled Cheese with Membrillo and Serrano

Grilled Cheese with Membrillo and Serrano

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

One of my favorite memories of my trip to Spain a year ago was breakfast. Around the corner from our hotel in Barcelona was a little sandwich shop where, for breakfast, you could order a sandwich of crusty bread toasted and rubbed with garlic and tomato, anointed with olive oil and robed around either queso (Manchego) or ham.

For this sandwich, I take the traditional idea of a grilled cheese and fly it back to Spain, pairing the Spanish cheese of Manchego and the softer, more yielding Campo de Montalban with the famed Serrano ham and membrillo (quince paste) and olive oil. The salinity from the cheeses and ham pair perfectly—no surprise—with that traditional cheese coupling of membrillo, which adds a fruity sweetness that’s not too overwhelmingly sugary or watery. In this case, the membrillo acts as a spread, just like mustard in a usual ham and cheese.

Membrillo

Membrillo

Grilled Cheese with Membrillo and Serrano Ham
makes 1 sandwich

Grilled Cheese with Membrillo and SerranoIngredients

  • 1 4-inch piece of Gallegea bread, or baguette or ciabatta, halved horizontally
  • 1/2 ounce Manchego, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 ounces Campo de Montalban, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tablespoon membrillo, or quince paste
  • 1 to 2 thin slices Serrano ham
  • Olive oil

Special Equipment

A brick wrapped in foil

Procedure

Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium heat.

Assemble the sandwiches by laying the cheese on one half of the bread, and spreading the membrillo on the other.  Place the ham over the membrillo, and press the two sides together.  Brush the outside lightly with olive oil.

Place the sandwich in the pan, and place the foil-wrapped brick on top of it to weight it down.  Check after about 2 minutes.  Once the side touching the pan is golden and crisp, flip the sandwich over and replace the brick, allowing the other side to brown as well.  You want to keep the heat on medium low, so that the cheese has time to melt while the crust develops.  When the sandwich is ready, cut in half, or into fingers to serve as a cocktail snack.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Bread & Butter, Easy, Eat, Recipes, Sandwiches, Series, The Secret Ingredient
 

French in a Flash: Lamb and Rosemary Brochettes with Apricot Crème Fraîche

RECIPE: Rosemary Lamb Brochettes with Apricot Crème Fraîche
Rosemary Lamb Brochettes

Rosemary Lamb Brochettes

A few weeks ago on Serious Eats I received a virulent comment from someone who was very upset about the simplicity of my recipe. And in some ways, I understand that. Why do I get to sit up high somewhere on the Internet pontificating what some people consider child’s play?

But today, I had lunch with one of my oldest friends, who also, happily, lives in the UK. She said to me, “Kerry, I work until nine every night. I don’t know how to cook. I don’t keep a stocked pantry. You have to tell me what to make.”

And as I sat there, I realized she reminded me of someone else: me! I too am in my twenties, and am in school, and don’t have a proper kitchen apparatus at this particular moment (my recipes have to be conjured up away from school–either at Mr. English’s, or when I am back in the States). Often we feel like “good” means “difficult” or “complicated.” But when it comes to food, I am taken back to one of my least favorite classes of all time: Mr. Martin’s sixth grade math. The algebra–that didn’t really stick with me. But one thing did: KISS–Mr. Martin’s mantra of Keep It Simple, Stupid. If you use terrific ingredients, and you know how (or you have someone like me to tell you!) to mix and match, food is better when it isn’t subtle, but when it’s all about a few perfect flavors simply assembled into a fresh, uncluttered meal that contrasts beautifully against our often haggard, extremely cluttered and complicated lives.

Rosemary Lamb Brochettes on the Grill

Rosemary Lamb Brochettes on the Grill

I think this week’s French in a Flash column for Serious Eats exemplifies just that. These lamb brochettes are party food for idiots–they just can’t go wrong, and they are impressive to look at, distinctive and delicious, and use authentical Provencal flavor pairings (apricot, rosemary, and olive oil–stolen from an old Papier Provence that I shared with you). All you have to do is heat a grill pan, skewer some lamb onto a rosemary twig, drizzle on some olive oil, and stir together some apricot jam and creme fraiche. I really love these, and despite their simplicity and graceful ease, I’m sure you will too! BON APP!

For the full story and recipe, as always, click here!

Rosemary Lamb Brochettes with Apricot Crème Fraîche
serves 2 to 3

Rosemary Lamb BrochettesIngredients

  • 1 pound lamb loin, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 sticks of rosemary
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves
  • Salt and pepper

Procedure

  1. Preheat a grill pan on high heat.
  2. Prepare the rosemary skewers by stripping off about 1/2 to 3/4 of the leaves off of each twig, so that you have an exposed "skewer" with a beautiful head of rosemary leaves. Chop up the stripped off rosemary leaves to flavor the lamb.
  3. Toss the lamb with the olive oil, some of the chopped rosemary, salt, and pepper. Skewer onto the rosemary sticks.
  4. Sear on all four sides, until just golden and crusted—1 to 2 minutes per side.
  5. Meanwhile, make the sauce by whisking together the crème fraîche and preserves.
  6. Serve the skewers hot off the grill with the sauce.
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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Eat, For a Crowd, French in a Flash, Recipes, Series
 

The Secret Ingredient (Membrillo) Part I: Apple and Pear Membrillo Turnovers

RECIPE: Apple and Pear Membrillo Turnovers
Apple and Pear Membrillo Turnovers

Apple and Pear Membrillo Turnovers

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

There are certain foods that go hand-in-hand—that are so permanently paired, that if you’ve had one, you can’t have helped but have had the other. Peanut butter and jelly, bread and butter, oil and vinegar. And because cheese is my very favorite food, it was only a matter of time before I was exposed to the jelly to cheese’s peanut butter: dulce de membrillo, or membrillo for short.

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Categories: Breakfast & Brunch, Eat, Pastries, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient